WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW:
• Aftershocks have continued to rumble through the night. As of 7am, there had been 860 since the 7.5 Kaikoura earthquake.
• Heavy rain warning for Wellington with 50-60mm forecast for this morning and gale-force winds in exposed parts of the capital. Flooding has blocked roads
• The Chinese Government chartered a helicopter to get Chinese nationals out of Kaikoura.
• Power is intermittent, fuel supplies are limited and Kaikoura's hospital is at capacity.
• There have been many landslides, and a number of dams have now formed.
• Yesterday morning's devastating 7.5 quake claimed the lives of at least two people. Thousands of others miraculously escaped injury.
THEY were the three cows that captured the shock of New Zealand's Kaikoura quake.
Footage from a news helicopter captured the two beef cows and a calf stranded on a tiny square of grass as the mountains crumbled around them.
The group appear to have no way to escape, and it is not clear how a rescue operation would be mounted.
However, there has been good news.
A Kaikoura farmer said the world-famous bovines have now been rescued after he went into action with a pick and shovel.
The farmer told NZ's Newshub that the trio were part of a group of 14 they were able to rescue previously.
The property was relatively flat before it shifted in the 7.5-magnitude quake.
"We dug a track with a number of people - the soil was quite soft because it had all been tipped over and bumbled around, we managed to get a track in and bring them out," he said.
"They desperately needed water, cows don't like living without water so that was the first requirement, and I think one or two had lost calves in the earthquake so they were a bit distressed."
The two "docile cows" are now safe.
NZ quake: Homes evacuated in Wellington as flood looms
WELLINGTON has been cut off and Hutt Valley residents have been told to prepare to evacuate their homes.
State highways 1 and 2 have been closed, while Waiwhetu Stream breached its banks this morning.
State Highway 58 from Paremata to Haywards Interchange at State Highway Two, Greys Road and Paekakariki Hill Road are closed.
The highway between Mackays Crossing and Paremata is in the process of being closed due to the severe flooding.
There is also severe flooding at Mana and the Plimmerton roundabout.
Porirua Harbour will experience high tide around 11am and this may affect roads around Porirua Harbour and the Pauatahanui inlet. Motorists are asked to avoid the area if possible and take alternate routes.
There are numerous reports of surface flooding in Hutt Valley and police are responding to a number of weather related call outs.
The Hutt River is very high and has overflowed at some parts. Police recommend motorists avoid State Highway 2 between Upper Hutt and Petone due to surface flooding.
Motorists are asked to avoid non-essential travel. They should exercise caution, adjust their driving to the conditions, avoid any areas where there is surface flooding and be tolerant of other road users.
There are contractors in the worse affected areas who are managing traffic and motorists should follow their instructions.
Last night was marked by aftershocks, wind and rain - the motorway signs had replaced the tsunami warning to motorists with one warning of extreme weather.
This morning the official line is Wellington's CBD is open for business, but the city remains a bit of a ghost town.
The CBD has re-opened but several streets, including Featherston Street, are still closed because of the risk of falling glass.
There are few commuters on the street and very few suits on their way to work.
Inner city cafes which would usually be full of people having breakfast and queuing for coffee have empty tables.
Buses are running but have many empty seats.
The fuel that keeps Wellington running - coffee - is however still flowing for those who have ventured out.
One coffee outlet is offering free coffees to emergency services workers helping with the earthquakes and weather.
Mojo coffee have kindly offered free coffee to Wellington emergency workers in uniform or with ID. https://t.co/58ZAYTt1Cv— Wgtn City Council (@WgtnCC) November 14, 2016
Wellington Mayor Justin Lester said many workplaces would now be ready to get back to work and described the forecast gales and rain as "nothing more than a gentle breeze" by Wellington standards.
Civil Defence has advised people to use commonsense when in the central city today.
Some buildings are still being assessed and areas, particularly around Featherston Street, are still cordoned off.
Police are controlling traffic on Featherston Street and making sure people stay away from damaged buildings.
NZ quake: 860 aftershocks as government "ready to pay"
NEW Zealand Prime Minister John Key says the government can cover the costs of damage from the latest earthquakes but it could mean increasing debt.
Key said on Breakfast it will be some time before the cost of the earthquakes is known but he has already estimated it will be in the billions of dollars.
He said EQC had resources and re-insurance, as well as effectively a Government guarantee "and we have the resources".
"Our debt levels are immensely low. They are under 25 per cent of GDP. I remember when I first became Prime Minister they were talking to me by 2020 the expectation it would be 60 per cent of GDP and our GDP is over a quarter of a trillion dollars.
"So there are no issues in terms of us paying. We wouldn't necessarily want to pay the money - we've got other things than fixing up earthquake damage, but you do what you've got to do.
We can meet that bill."
Kaikoura Earthquake: In Pictures
The Government recorded a $1.8 billion surplus for the past financial year and National has been talking about offering tax cuts next year. Finance Minister Bill English has also set a new target of reducing debt to 20 per cent of GDP.
The Christchurch earthquake cost $45 billion, but Key said that was in a large city and involved a lot of houses and buildings.
Remember aftershocks will continue. Drop, cover and hold so you aren't knocked. Don't run outside or stand in doorways. pic.twitter.com/4gETHqrPDq— MCDEM (@NZcivildefence) November 14, 2016
It was too early to assess the cost of repairs in Wellington and to road and rail in the South Island, but he said it cost $40 million to clean up a slip in the Manawatu Gorge - and he had seen half a dozen such slips along the Kaikoura coast.
It was also likely Kaikoura businesses will get financial support from the Government to help recover from the quakes, which have closed off the township.
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